Onion prices have become a political issue in the wake of Nashik local body elections. A day after NCP MP Supriya Sule raked up the issue of low onion prices, the Shiv Sena also has followed suit. Hovering between Rs 4 and 5 per kg, onion growers in Nashik have been complaining of losses over the last two years. Despite a steady increase in export, onion prices have remained low. With the late Kharif onion peaking in the markets, chances of any price correction appear dim in the days to come. In view of the low prices, the Central government has also increased the window to avail export subsidy. In view of the bumper arrival of onions, there has been no price corrections till date.
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A day after her visit to Nashik, Sule tweeted about the destruction of standing crop of onions by farmers due to low prices. Sule’s tweet comes at a time when NCP is trying to keep control of the Nashik Zilla Parishad. The long incarceration of the former leader Chhagan Bhujbal over alleged charges of corruption has weakened the party in Nashik. Both Shiv Sena and BJP are trying hard to wrestle the local body from NCP.
Nashik’s rural areas have been worst hit due to demonetisation with onion sowing taking a dip in need for cash. Onion being a cash and labour intensive crop, sowing for the all-important Rabi onion has been lesser than expected. Low price realisation has weaned off some of the farmers away from onion to crops like corn. Unrest among its members had also resulted in Swabhimani Shetkari leader MP Raju Shetti to announce support for Shiv Sena in the local body elections. Santosh Gorade district youth president of the outfit said that a large number of party functionaries were on the verge of resigning in March. “The state government has not done anything to help us. As onion growers we could not be blind to the pains of the growers and yet remain mute,” he said. Shetti’s announcement of support to
Shiv Sena, Gorade said helped them change their mind. “The BJP will not be able to make any effect in the rural areas, people are against them,” he said. Jaydutt Holkar, the chairman of Lasalgaon market committee has recently joined Shiv Sena, while Nanasaheb Patil a director of the committee had joined BJP. Holkar’s wife is fighting elections from Shiv Sena while Patil’s wife is contesting from the BJP. Holkar said demonetisation and low prices of onions has been one of the major issues the party has raised during its campaign.